Safety Survey Announced at ABA Launch

The newly launched Australian Balustrade Association has announced a national survey as part of its plan to ‘get serious’ about safety.

The association’s launch, at Elite Glass in Melbourne on Thursday, was well-attended by industry leaders, founding members and Victorian Skills Commissioner, Neil Coulson.

Speakers called for the industry to work together to eradicate the duplication and contradiction caused by non-uniform regulatory standards around the country.

During a lively question and answer session, there was debate about when and how engineering certification should occur, with general agreement that the certification should occur before construction commences.

Certification before construction would take into account all factors that affect safety performance, including materials, design and engineering, as well as suitability of product.

Currently, engineering certification frequently occurs near the end of construction, without all safety factors being taken into account.

ABA Executive Manager, Patrizia Torelli told the audience that balustrade safety problems are significant enough to demand immediate attention.

But she said the full extent of potential and past safety failures is hard to assess – given the lack of uniformity in safety codes.

Torelli said: “The Australian Balustrade Association has been formed to prevent injury and loss of life.

“We will do that by working tirelessly to promote national safety, accreditation, certification and monitoring guidelines for the industry.”

The Association is working towards one version of ‘safe’ and one version of ‘compliant’ across every state.

“The construction industry cannot stand by as non-compliant and unsafe products, unqualified contractors and counterfeit certification of cheap imports are allowed to flourish.”

The ABA is introducing an accreditation and training programme and will be promoting international best practice in fit-for-purpose materials and monitoring and testing methodologies.

This initiative is already under discussion with Skills Commissioner, Neil Coulson and other regulatory bodies.

Some of the biggest balustrade companies in Australia have signed up to the ABA, and will take part in the national survey.

The ABA is collating data on issues including balustrade failures, near-misses or accidents, as well as information on the most prevalent balustrade safety issues in members’ states or regions.

The Australian Balustrade Association had its beginnings on the Sunshine Coast, with a group of industry leaders.

Sam Bevis, CEO of Architectural Metalworks Australia, was one of those industry leaders. He told the audience:

He said: “Today we are wiser, and stronger, because we have come together, as an industry association, to bring our combined weight to bear on the industry.

“We will act as a powerful lobby group, to actively engage with government, regulators and industry skills bodies.”

The association is calling for businesses to recognise the advantages of having national ABA certification to support their products and their brands.

Part of the association’s outreach will be to the wider construction industry.

The ABA hopes that architects, surveyors, engineers and builders will welcome the uniformity, certainty and confidence of agreed national certification methodologies.

To take part in the Australian Balustrade Association Safety Survey, click here.

Picture: ABA Launch held at Elite Glass

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